An early look at the next release of Ubuntu's Linux desktop hit the web late yesterday. What's in 10.10, or "Maverick Meerkat", for desktop users? Besides app updates, there's a new photo manager, improved multimedia controls, better Ubuntu One syncing and more.
The full list of changes and new things is listed at the beta page, but what strikes us in a quick look at a live-booting beta (for which we recommend Unetbootin and a USB thumb drive) are the changes to Ubuntu One, the Dropbox-like syncing service that ties in Music Store purchases, personal files, settings and other user data. There's now a single, easier sign-on for Ubuntu One, and the look and feel are much improved. Same with the Ubuntu Software Center, which makes it easier to see the apps you've installed from the Center, as well as peek at popular and recommended apps.
As expected, Shotwell has replaced Fspot as the default photo manager, and it's a step forward, if not exactly Picasa for Linux. The volume control in the system panel now has music player controls too, and Rhythmbox and all the other default apps have seen their normal version upgrades and bug fixes.
Ubuntu 10.10 Beta is a free download that should install on almost any system, though Macs require a bit of extra work. Tell us what you think of the early-stage Maverick Meerkat in the comments.